Meituan-Dianping, the world’s fourth-largest startup by valuation, is hardly known outside its native China. But Chinese consumers rely on it for everything from ordering lunch at the office to booking an overseas vacation. With 290 million monthly active users, it has reached a scale that sets it on a path to challenge larger rivals such as Alibaba, China’s e-commerce juggernaut.
Meituan says it expects revenue to hit $5 billion this year, double the level of 2016, and to break even as a group, details which haven’t been reported previously. Now as Meituan embarks upon an aggressive expansion plan into areas such as ride-hailing, vacation rentals and software for small businesses, it stands to reap rich rewards. But there is the risk that Meituan is taking on too much by pitting itself against deep-pocketed rivals in nearly every sector that it is moving into.